Team 118 - Oct. 6-20, 2012
Time is a priceless gift
Arrived in Chennai in the evening—Stephen (Raja) was there to meet me at the airport along with his brother (the “real Stephen”), who will be the driver as needed. It was a bit of a drive to the house from the airport. Once there, it didn’t take long to settle into my upstairs room. I met Sheeba, Stephen’s wife and their son, Roshan, who is 4-years old. They stay on the lower level of the home where the team meeting area is also located when on site. The remaining evening was just a brief time of greeting with a light meal already for me. I am a team of 1.
The next day was Sunday and later in the AM, we met to discuss the various projects; have a little Tamil language lesson; go over Global Volunteer rules; goals for my 2 weeks and general housekeeping information. The cook is Rani and the caretaker/watchman is Barnabus.
We sorted through my donations and as I had been in
for some pre-project travel,
I also did some laundry. Later in the
afternoon, we went to SEAMS, which is one of the project sites. The children were very polite, enthusiastic. They enjoyed showing me around and also
introduced themselves and sang a song for me.
Sunday evening, we walked to a local restaurant for our supper. India
Monday. Oct 8, 2012
The ripples of a pebble travel far
My first full day as a volunteer. Rani’s breakfast as usual was filling. Assisi Illam, was the destination of the AM to help at a day-care for 2-4 year old children in the neighborhood. The kids are quite active and most were very happy to interact/see visitors. There were a few that held back. Singing, playing, and a snack time followed by toilet time were the activities of the AM. So much energy the children have and so much curiosity.
After lunch, Stephen drove me to
. My charges for the week are 4th
and 5th graders---45 minutes with each group. One quickly realizes that the skill level is
quite variable even in a group of 3-4 children, so there is an added challenge
of helping those with lower skills while not boring the ones with higher
reading/math skills. Enthusiasm is not
a problem. Grace
There is prep/break time between each project, and it does come in handy for re-energizing and focusing. My later afternoon was spent back at SEAMS---30 minute sessions with 2 students each session. Again, there is a challenge to keep each learning at his/her level---but much easier than when managing 3-6 at once.
Meals continue to be quite filling and tasty—usually rice and then some chutney and vegetable; meat for the main meals; fruit always available. Fry breads of various types are also served regularly. The spices aren’t too strong but definitely give you a taste of Indian cuisine.
The “shower” at the end of this first full day was welcome with the day’s heat—only cold water available. The bed has mosquito netting over it, and so far I’ve not noticed many/much in the way of mosquitos. The fan and air conditioning in the room when occupied is also welcome with the heat.
Wednesday. Oct 10, 2012
“To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world”—author unknown
The mid-point of my first week I’m starting to get into a routine. The children have plenty of enthusiasm and energy along with smiles. My time at Assisi Illam with the younger children—singing, playing, reading and helping with toileting/hygiene. Lunch and break before going to Grace to work with the 4th and 5th grades on math and reading/writing skills; break and then time at SEAMS again working with various ages in groups of 2 on reading/math skills.
I’m finding my way to the local grocery store at times to get a bit of chocolate or some Diet Coke. It is just around the corner basically, so it is not a far walk. During the cooler parts of the day, I will occasionally go to the roof to enjoy the breezes and change of scenery. I am getting more comfortable with lesson planning and “back-up” planning as well.
There is no going hungry here with Rani’s cooking. Roshan is full of energy and loves Thomas the Train and Tom & Jerry shows, so I will join him in watching those at times in the evening. There are power outages at different times throughout the city, so my class time is such that I arrive as power returns for some sites and I generally am not “home” during the outage at the guest house.
Friday, Oct 12, 2012
Smiles are communicative in any language
My first full week has come to a close. I’m finding the children’s enthusiasm and smiles quite energizing as I continue to hone my “teaching” skills . Learning the names of some of the children has been somewhat successful---with so many, it is a challenge.
Rice or noodles are a diet staple; meat is generally chicken---although we’ve had some fish and beef. All the meals have been quite tasty. Thursday night, we went to the big shopping area in Chennai---I bought some fabric and this afternoon, Sheeba and I went to the lady’s tailor for measuring and fitting---my outfit will be ready early next week.
Each evening there is time to discuss the day---thoughts, concerns, problems; also discussion of the upcoming activities. I also try to spend a little time emailing back home.
Weekend, Oct 13/14, 2012
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”
Saturday, Stephen drove me to Kanchipuram for visiting of 4 of the temples there. Unlike the car used during the week, this one had air conditioning. Driving is such an adventure here----how any one avoids accidents is mind-boggling at times. Seeing livestock on city streets is becoming less novel; hearing horns beeping is nearly constant. Stephen does an excellent job getting one from point “A” to “B”. The other big thing to do at Kanchipuram is silk shopping, but I had done enough of that on my pre-project travels, so we returned to “home” early afternoon.
It was a quiet Saturday of reading, writing, cross-stitching and just relaxing; also a little walk. Sheeba, Roshan and Stephen were out for the evening to a birthday party---I had the option to go but decided a quiet evening “at home” was in order. Rani made sure I had food available for supper when I was ready.
Sunday was a tour of Chennai sites---Thomas the apostle sites, the museum and a drive by the beach. As last Sunday, we had our evening meal at the restaurant not far from the house—Anjappar. And then it was time to prepare for the coming week of “work”.
Monday, Oct 15, 2012
Behind every cloud is a rainbow
The start of another week---a hearty breakfast by Rani of hard boiled egg, chutney and I was ready to face the day. Today, I spent the morning at
helping Sister Metilda
and the other staff working with children with a variety of chronic
conditions—autism and cerebral palsy were the main ones I saw this day and
what I would generally call
developmental delays of various forms/degrees. I was asked to work with 2 different
children during the morning---first was a 5 year old boy with cerebral palsy;
then I had a 5-month old child with cerebral palsy. The family members were involved in the
sessions as well. St. Thomas
After lunch, Sheeba and I went for a short walk in the neighborhood---in search of fresh chicken as I wanted a picture of the places that sold such. Well, it was a new moon, so very few people eat chicken on this day, so the shop was closed. We stopped at the grocery store instead. Sheebe also showed me some of the various coins that are used in
as well. The afternoon at Grace, I had
the 1st (2 students) and 3rd (3 students) during my
sessions. The later afternoon session
was at SEAMS as usual. The children
seemed a bit more squirrely today, but we still managed to get a little learning
At supper, we had poori (a fried in oil bread) with the chicken curry and vegetables. Later this week, I will have a cooking lesson for some of the Indian foods. Ready or not, I have a feeling this second week will go fast.
Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012
Never underestimate the power of touch
Midweek of my last week in
the day was a bit different from most. I
started out getting up early, so that Stephen could drive me to the wholesale
flower/vegetable/fruit market to take in the sights/sounds/scents. It was quite busy and rather interesting—very
colorful with the all the stands with products arranged for sale. Before I had gone to the market, I’d thrown
clothes in the laundry and planned to hang them when home, but the rain showers
came---so they were hung in my room. India
With the rains, some of the children didn’t come for their therapy time at the hospital, so there were fewer children—little Teje (5 months) was there, so I worked with him until he needed a nap—then I led some stretching for the adults. The third and first graders at Grace continue to be enthusiastic and interested but their energy can sometimes be a challenge to control.
I didn’t go to SEAMS today---had the opportunity to go into Chennai to see some traditional dance—Bharathanatayam. I even wore the clothes to town that the tailor had finished for me. The costumes, dance and music were all quite interesting—it started a little later than advertised, and so we started home about 7:45PM. The traffic and rain made it a very long, slow drive home---9:30 PM when arrived home. Sheeba and Stephen had waited supper for me.
A very full day but interesting---rain definitely changes the activity/pace of life here. Tomorrow I will have the chance for cooking with Sheeba and Rani during the day. Depending on the rains, classes may or may not occur at schools, as they call holiday when rains are bad.
Friday, Oct 19, 2012
“Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened” Dr. Seuss
My last full day at Chennai working with the children. There has been a lot of rain the last couple of days which has altered schedules and the children available to work with. The hospital children did not have any sessions yesterday AM due to the rain, so I had cooking lesson with Rani and Sheeba. There were fewer students at Grace as well; spent more time at SEAMS in the evening working with the children there.
Today the rains continue. I was surprised when most of the children were at
for therapy. I split my time between the
little baby Teje and the older child Harish.
When it was time to say good-by, Sister Matilda and other staff gave me
hugs and wished me well. Before coming
home, we also stopped at Assisi Illam so that I could say good-bye to the
children and staff/adults there and Sister Rose. St.
There were children missing at
again today due to
the weather, so I had some blended classes but seemed to keep all busy with
tasks. Again there were good-byes to
say as the day ended. At SEAMS, after
doing some lessons with a couple of the boys, all the children presented a
little “program” for me—singing and some dancing; each came up to say their
thanks and good-byes and I was presented with a lovely card they had all
signed. Good-byes are never easy, even
when you’ve only met/known people for a short time. Grace
Supper was served in traditional style on banana leaves----and I even ate traditional style with my fingers. So many memories/experiences these last couple of weeks!! One can only hope/pray that the seeds started/nurtured will continue to flourish and grow.